Jones, whose Orioles capped the Sox’s downfall with a walk-off win on the last day of the season, thinks that Kevin Youkilis‘ absence for the final 13 games of the season was something Boston wasn’t able to adjust to.
“You had a lineup with (Jacoby) Ellsbury, (Dustin) Pedroia, (Adrian) Gonzalez, Youk and Big Papi (David Ortiz) that played every single day. Now you mess with it, and it throws off your offense a little bit,” Jones told the Boston Herald. “You’ve got a big hole at fourth. A .300 hitter, 30 (homer), 100 (RBI) guy, who’s going to replace that? There isn’t anyone.”
Youkilis was lost after Sept. 15 due to several injuries, notably a sports hernia for which he needed offseason surgery. With Youkilis missing, it left Gonzalez virtually unprotected in the lineup.
“Are you going to pitch to Adrian Gonzalez? Hell, no,” Jones added. “But you have to if Youkilis is behind him because if you don’t pitch to Adrian, Youkilis is going to bust your (butt). That hurt them. And he’s an unbelievable defender, too. What he brings to your whole entire team, I’m sure they missed him down the stretch.”
While Jones makes a good point, you can’t put Boston’s breakdown on any one player. There was also the pitching, which was awful down the stretch (not to mention their beer-and-chicken escapades). Josh Beckett notched just one win in the final month. Jonathan Papelbon had more blown saves in September than he did the rest of the year. Jon Lester lost his last three decisions. And John Lackey was about as effective as having batters hit off a tee all season.
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